Combatting Confirmation Bias

Have You Thought About…?

A coaching client of mine is working on being more open-minded to others’ ideas. His manager knows this is his goal. Although my client believes he is making good progress, his manager seems laser-focused on his lapses. 

I asked him, “Have you thought about how your manager’s preconceptions about you might impact her conclusions?”  As humans, we each hold strong narratives about others. If someone sees you as closed-minded, they will instinctively (and often unconsciously) lock on to any corroborating evidence. Even in the face of information to the contrary! This is called confirmation bias.

One great technique to help others disrupt their narratives is to share that you are trying to make a shift and would like their feedback. In this example, my client could say to his manager, “As you know I’m trying to be more open-minded. I think I did well in that meeting staying open to the ideas that Kelly presented. What do you think?” It’s an opportunity to highlight a positive example while planting a seed in the manager’s brain that changes are happening. Plus, the manager will be more likely to pick up ongoing incremental shifts. 

Want key stakeholders to recognize shifts in your behavior? Ask yourself, “what might I say to help disrupt their old narratives?”

Did You Know?

“A confirmation bias is cognitive bias that favors information that confirms your previously existing beliefs or biases.”

“Unfortunately, we all have confirmation bias. Even if you believe you are very open-minded and only observe the facts before coming to conclusions, some bias will likely shape your opinion. It’s very difficult to combat this natural tendency.”

– Kendra Cherry, MS, author and educational consultant. From “What is the Confirmation Bias?”

Need Inspiration?

“Change only favours minds that are diligently looking and preparing for discovery.”

– Louis Pasteur

Is somebody’s confirmation bias getting in your way? Disrupt their narrative.